Out-of-hours GP service to leave Warwick Hospital

Patients who need to see a GP during evenings and weekends will no longer be able to do so at Warwick Hospital.

They could instead be sent anywhere in south Warwickshire.

It is still uncertain where people needing non-emergency care will be treated after the hospital announced it will no longer house the GP out-of-hours service for the area.

The news has caused concern among nurses, who fear the new site may be harder to get to for people in Leamington and Warwick. Royal College of Nursing spokesman Tim Baggs said: "Clearly we have concerns for our own members, but there is some uncertainty for patients about where they are going to use the service.

"There are questions of accessibility for patients and questions about the implications for staff."

Hospital managers made the decision after private group Badger Harmoni won the contract to provide the service, which had been run at the Lakin Road site since 2003.

Expressing "extreme disappointment" at losing the contract, the hospital's chief executive Glen Burley said he had no intention to "simply be a landlord" for Badger Harmoni.

He added: "We felt the needs of our services and patients should come first.

"The space will be used to expand our capacity in accident and emergency and provide more room for the fracture clinic."

Badger Harmoni medical director Dr Fay Wilson said a site had been identified but could not be confirmed, and that public transport and ease of accessibility had been considered.

She said: "We will be looking at what we can do with the minimum disruption to the original plan."

Dr Wilson explained that the company usually works from recognised NHS sites - but that this is not a necessity.

Badger comprises NHS GPs in Birmingham and Solihull and provides an out-of-hours service in Solihull. It also works with IT company Harmoni in south Staffordshire.

Dr Wilson added: "This is not some giant multinational with shareholders in the south of France. The people I am answerable to are GPs in Birmingham and Solihull."

The changeover is expected to take place in June, with most current staff likely to continue their roles in the new service.

l The GP out of hours service treats patients between 6.30pm and 8am, and at weekends and bank holidays.